Ever vigilant, as if guarding the entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, George Washington sits mounted upon his brawny, bronze steed. The statue, a cast bronze, placed in the Eakins Oval on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, was the creation of Rudolf Siemering, in 1897. Standing the watch with the General of the Republic, are figures representing the people of America for whom he valiantly fought.
A group known as the “Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania," was established to celebrate those veterans who had fought together during the War of Independence and support members or their families. On Independence Day in 1810, the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania, avowed out of their deep respect for the late General George Washington, the father of our country, to institute an everlasting commemorative.
By 1881, enough funds had accumulated, and a final contract was signed with Professor Siemering, of Berlin.
Concerned that the figures be accurate in features and dress Siemering modeled Washington’s face from photographs, prints, and a copy of a mask made during the late general’s life. Siemering, known for his use of the baroque style, used it to depict Washington in the framework of Washington’s country and his times.
The monument was cast in three levels, each a separate impression of a different perception; Washington, the hero sits at the top; figures depicting his place in history are placed in the middle section; and on the base stage, supporting all the rest, are the plants and animals representative of Washington’s native country, the United States, with classical figures depicting the American citizen.
The monument was unveiled in May 1897, at the Green Street entrance to Fairmount Park. The event was celebrated nationally, with William McKinley presiding over the dedication ceremony. When the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was completed in 1928, the monument was moved to its final destination in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
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